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Posted by on Sep 23, 2009 in International, Politics, War | 11 comments

Obama Wimp Factor at the UN

The President spoke to a contentious body of politicians today, asking them to stop bickering and start working together, and was greeted with applause. No one yelled “You lie!”

The United Nations, as critics will be quick to point out, is not the US Congress, and this attitude was summed up in a UK Telegraph headline even before the speech: “The UN loves Barack Obama because he is weak.”

The postmortems will follow that line. “Obama,” Fox News reports, “just put Israel ‘on the chopping block,’ said former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton.”

Never mind what the President actually said: “To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security.”

Overall, the President proposed “four pillars” as “fundamental to the future that we want for our children”– nuclear disarmament, Middle East peace, environmental renewal and economic growth, while warning North Korea and Iran “must be held accountable” if they continue to pursue nuclear weapons.

“The world,” he said, “must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear.”

In distancing himself from the Bush era of going it alone in global affairs, President Obama opened himself once again to partisan attacks under the time-honored Wimp Factor, that Democrats are not macho enough to protect America from foreign threats.


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  • Leonidas

    “must be held accountable”

    In UN speak thats fetch the cushions!

  • Father_Time

    Whatever. More Republican whine.

    Bolton is an arrogant useless jackass sent to the harass the UN by G.Dubya., the mother of all useless jackasses.

  • Leonidas

    Bolton is an arrogant useless jackass sent to the harass the UN by G.Dubya., the mother of all useless jackasses.

    Agreed, but the UN is still pretty useless. Your more likely to convince someone in an internet political blog with words alone than someone at the UN

    • Father_Time

      Leonidas I agree that the UN has serious fundamental problems but if you notice these problems are mirror images of problems common in a world of many poor undeveloped nations and peoples. Condemning and destroying the United Nations will only serve to de-evolutionize that progress that has already been made. I have been in the field with the UN and I can guarantee you that your money their has been spent well and wise with regard to and UNDP. Do not let the craziness in the New York general assembly shade you perspective.

      Here is a list of current job openings abroad. Which one would you like to cut?

    • Father_Time

      More for UNDP…same question.

  • kathykattenburg


    When the far right (including in this case the British far right) says, “The U.N. Loves Obama Because He Is Weak,” it’s important to understand how “weak” is defined by these people. Weakness is the reluctance to be brutal, or to walk all over every other country in the world. Or, to use a particularly graphic example (and I will refer to this example indirectly), to people like John Bolton and his admirers on the right, “weakness” means refusing to do what Tim Roth did to Jessica Lange in the film “Rob Roy.” You don’t ask for what you want; you take it (paraphrasing Roth in the film).

    If the world doesn’t hate us, we’re weak.

    And I have to say I am so glad that the president is no longer someone who governs according to that philosophy.

    • Dr J

      Mr. Obama’s softer approach to foreign policy is taking the edge off our relationship with many other countries, and I welcome that development. We’re still carrying our big stick.

      Domestically, though, “weak” is looking more and more like an appropriate word. His recent sell-out over tire import tariffs is troubling.

  • Leonidas

    Mr. Obama’s softer approach to foreign policy is taking the edge off our relationship with many other countries, and I welcome that development. We’re still carrying our big stick.

    Agreed in some respects not in others There are areas when we have benefitted by this approach and areas where we haven’t, and some areas where we really can’t tell. I think we benefitted for example regarding Canada, on the other hand our actions regarding Honduras are deplorable, asking another country to violate its Constitution. And with regards to Eastern Europe, still too early in my opinion to weigh the missle shield decisions, some good and some bad points to that one, we will just have to wait and see.

  • DLS

    [sigh] Stay on topic. Obama’s speech was largely fluff. “Four pillars,” aping FDR — [snicker].

    What is also interesting is that we have the zoo in New York called the UN General Assembly full of the likes of Chavez, Qadhafi, and Ahmedinejad, and we also have a zoo Obama has addressed, and which is an even bigger problem for us, the U.S. House of Representatives, full of lib Dems, which is effectively the same thing right now insofar as the mainstream public in the USA is concerned.

  • DLS

    “the UN is still pretty useless”

    The concept of world government is even more naive and useless, and proven damaging over decades.

    That some might want us, and our government, to submit to the likes of it is remarkable nowadays — but not surprising, actually (and sadly).

  • Zac

    The aftertaste of Bush-era unilateralism isn’t going to be washed away in one or two years. The real question is whether or not President Obama will have enough time to allow his approach to bear fruit before the wolves descend. Dropping missile defense in Europe and holding up Russia as a plank in global disarmament is merely the other side of the coin to tearing up the ABM treaty and disparaging the CTBT.

    One can just as easily label Obama’s ‘weakness’ as humility- a trait that might pay dividends for America’s long-term strategic interests.

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